Did you ever think that building a site with strong domain authority can only be done by the big shots? Hell no.
I went and bothered 15 of the industry's top companies with this simple question:
"How would your company rank the importance of the following in terms of building domain authority? Links(backlinks and internal links), Content and Social Signals."
I am an amateur when it comes to domain authority and have been bombarded with terrible sources that resulted in both time and money wasted. I wanted to cut the crap and find out what really works, so you don't have to. I will present the results for the impatient and leave the companies extended explanations for later:
3 Important Domain Authority Factors(Average Rank as voted):
If interested, continue reading and discover how each company justifies their decision, as well as a definition of each factor. Click on your favorite companies to skip to them or ease into a relaxing read and scroll on my friend!
Udemy Instructor - How I Hit #1 on Google: The 2015 Complete SEO Course
Search Engine Land
What is Domain Authority?
By definition, domain authority is a prediction on how well a domain will rank in search engines. It is determined by Moz using over 40 variables against Google's Algorithm to model how the results are derived.
Domain Authority Factor - Content
The agreement that content is the largest contributing factor to domain authority is not by accident. Building domain authority in 2015 no longer requires extensive link building, Google now sees quality content as king. They even provided a list of questions to ask yourself when building authority.
Here are 3 I believe are most important:
- Is your content original?
None of that copied or poorly spun garbage. All the content on your authority site should be quality hand-written articles. Redundant and/or plagiarised content will destroy your Google rankings.
- Will your readers enjoy the content, or is it written for Google?
My general rule of thumb is that your readers should happily refer back to the website and willing to repost, retweet or share your content with everyone. Honestly, Google will see if you're writing articles just so you can rank well - they read behaviour.
- Is your advice actionable or practical?
Tutorials and How-Tos are a fantastic way to build authority - especially if it is a specific solution to a specific problem.
I recommend filling in the gaps found in the industry - take a popular post, find its flaws, fix it and post the revamped article.
With all this said, you have to make sure your on-site or technical SEO is done. You can find an article I previously wrote on how to write an SEO-friendly blog here.
Domain Authority Factor - Links
Prior to some of Google's major updates, many would say that link building was one of the most important factors in SEO. There are two types of links, internal and off-site links(backlinks). With building off-site links we drift into the Blackhat realm, so build with caution...mentioning you build backlinks will get you fired or blacklisted.
Building Off-site Links(Backlinks)
I am not going into detail about this, but Brian Dean has compiled the most extensive list of resources on the internet. You can find it here.
I will leave you with a closing statement on backlinks, stay relevant! Don't try to have a link on a tech site if you're in the art niche - it will do more damage then good!
Developing Internal Links
Domain authority means the whole site ranks high and across various pages - this is where the importance of linking to your own page comes in. I will give 3 of the most important factors or tips for building internal links.
- Create webs for each topic on your site
By this, I mean linking pages based on different topics or niches. Marketing with marketing, SEO with SEO and so on. I cannot stress the importance of relevancy in 2015.
- Link one page more than the others
This will establish a more dominant page, so you can link content that is a bit more off topic with it.
- Don't spam keywords
Use keyword variations, spamming it will disable its strength.
Domain Authority Factor - Social Signals
When someone posts a link to your content on their profile, they send a 'social signal'. If you were to click like at the bottom of this post, then you have just sent me a social signal.
Is it actually all that important?
In short, yes - Google's very own Matt Cutts has already released a video confirming that it is a contributing factor in SEO. Through some tests, I have ranked social media sites in terms of signal strength:
- Google Plus
This one should be obvious, why do you think webmasters even use G+?
Tough to implement, but I have tried embedding unlisted Youtube videos with the 301+ method and it worked extremely well.
Always great click through rates with Twitter.
No longer the behemoth it once was, you can still get traffic just not traffic that sticks.
Buffer is a social media management company, they do everything from scheduled postings to suggested articles. I love their #bufferchat and am quite the regular. They strive for strong community engagement and have a very loyal following on Twitter. I popped my question and they replied very swiftly as expected.
Unbounce can help you build some damn good landing pages - without getting your hands dirty(from coding). Like Buffer, they build their brand around customer success. This model isn't the future if you aren't focussing on engagement and proper marketing you are already behind.
Oh, by the way, update your company page Unbounce, Hayley isn't there!
Online marketing company that does it all!
Purely SEO company, so I thought I'd ask. Some of their products look promising, check em out above!
An award winning digital marketing agency that actually replied, cool!
An 11-year-old SEO company, like wine, authority comes with age.
ThinkSEM is an internet marketing agency based in Minneapolis with their primary focus on PPC. They're always on #bufferchat, super friendly marketing team! Check out there site here.
FeverBee was a foreign name to me prior to, once again the legendary #bufferchat. So glad they took the time to answer my questions. Check them out if you ever want to build an online community.
Sproutsocial is an easy-to-use social media management tool - they advertise business and online presence growth. I do love their #sproutchat, a bit closer to home than some of the topics at Buffer. Definitely check out their tool, beautiful UI and simple but effective concept(Oh and super friendly!).
Another Canadian company! They do internet marketing consultation, show em some love!
John Haver from Authority Website Income was kind enough to write me a lengthy answer to my question:
I am sure you will find that almost everyone agrees that #1 in terms of importance is Content. There are many witty sayings about content being important but for me I like to think about the basic objective of Google is to deliver the searcher the best article to answer their question. The best way to begin the process of ranking in Google is to have the best content for the searchers query.
Great content alone however is not enough so the second most important thing in my opinion is quality, relevant links. They get a bad wrap but getting quality links breathes life into great content.
Social signals would be a distant third in my books. "
One of the most thorough SEO guides/courses I have ever read/completed. I owe a lot of what I know today to this man. He reached out to me on Udemy and I asked him the same question. What he responded was so much more than I expected:
I prefer to stick with something that's backed by the numbers. I've seen a lot of surveys and "expert roundups" of what people think is important for domain authority and a high Google ranking, but the Searchmetrics study I go through in the course is the closest thing to reality than anything else I've seen. You can't really argue with a year-long study of 10,000 keywords, 10+ billion links, 20+ billion social media signals and 100s of 1000s of on-page factors.
But just remember that Google is very holistic in what they put on the first page of the search results. You need a little bit of everything in there. I had a student reach out to me and wonder why he had 7,000 shares for a post but wasn't getting much search traffic. So I did a quick little audit and found out his page was loading extremely slow and had a number of other on-page factor problems. He needed about 1,000 more words of content and he had relatively few backlinks for a page with that many social media signals. So in essence he had one positive and three negatives. You really need three or four positives there unless you're talking about a very long-tail search term.
It's kind of why Buzzfeed gets thousands of shares for every post they put up - probably more than 50 a day - but you'd never see a Buzzfeed page at the top of the search results unless you searched for the title of it directly. Their posts rarely top 400 words and people don't link to them long-term because once they're done checking out the 36 Cutest Cats on the Planet, they're on to the 26 People That Need to be Banned from Society (actual posts on Buzzfeed 🙂
Hope that helps you out!
Search Engine Land is the #1 place to get the most recent search engine news. Ultra high-quality content and my personal favorite morning read.
Last but certainly not least...
His answer goes against every single company on this list, but he is arguably one of the most dominant forces in the industry. His short and cold answer will always be in the back of my mind:
And with that..concludes the largest and most in-depth post I have ever written, I must thank everyone who took the time to answer my question!
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Published by: Jacky Chou in Blog